In recent discussions with human resources directors, our business development specialist was asked for updates on the four day workweek. They wanted to know what types of applicants are seeking this option and what companies, i.e., their competitors, are offering this. Given Abel’s wide contacts with both applicants and client companies over a wide range of industries, there were many updates:
First, Which 4 Day Workweek?
Most employers assume that this would be a substitution of 4 ten hour days for 5 eight hour days. However, that is not always the premise. Some workers are seeking a reduction in both work days and total hours. The current 40 hour a week model is only about a century old. The argument for further reduction rests on massive productivity advances since then. A March 2023 Newsweek survey found that, while 71% of American workers favored a 4 day workweek, 83% felt they could accomplish their current workload in 32 hours. Indeed, the PA State Legislature is considering a bill to offer tax incentives to companies that move to a 32 hour week.
Is This Just a Tight Labor Market Gimmick?
In the last few years, many HR directors have shifted to offering the option for a four day workweek along with remote work and other flexible arrangements. First, this was done during the COVID-19 pandemic to limit in-person work. Later, this was a benefit to attract applicants for hard-to-fill openings. With some sort of economic downturn predicted for 2023 or 2024, will there finally be more applicants than jobs, so such flexibility will no longer be needed? Offering special and unique benefits will always be a means to attract the highest talent. Perhaps proposing a mid-range salary to top talent with that flexibility might be a successful strategy to attract (and retain) staff. Still, the strong demand for certain positions will be unaffected by a recession that affects some industries but not others.
So, Who’s Actually Offering 4 Days Workweeks?
Among major companies, the most well-known are Panasonic and Toshiba. Panasonic’s Japanese corporate office determined that implementing 4 day/40 hour weeks was the most effective. Microsoft’s Japan operation reduced the workweek to 4 days/32 hours (a 20% reduction) and productivity jumped 40%. Locally, a few other major companies have moved to a 4 day workweek for almost all employees. As examined in Abel’s blog article of May 3, 2022 entitled, “Is the Four Day Workweek the Next Workplace Trend?” the most labor-competitive companies are continually working to identify which positions perform as well or better than 4 days/40 hours, and which employees do well in that type of schedule, as well as other flexible arrangements. Certainly, staggered shifts, additional staffing support or other creative scheduling solutions would be required to offer a 4 day workweek to employees in customer service assembly or warehouse roles.
As technology improves, especially artificial intelligence (AI), job needs will also evolve toward improving efficiency and productivity along with job satisfaction and morale. Companies will continue to seek the right level of flexibility that still maintains the desired corporate culture. Abel Personnel will continue to guide its client firms on both the staffing trends within their industry as well as what each generation of applicants values in the workplace.
- Newsweek, “America is Ready for the 4-Day Workweek,” Giulia Carbonaro, March 17, 2023
- Indeed, “Is a 4-Day Workweek the Future? These 10 Companies Think So,” Nikki Carter, March 16, 2023